southwest hawaii inter-island

Updated Southwest Hawaii Inter-Island | When It Starts + How It Works

Updated 3/4/19. Southwest Hawaii inter-island Flights were announced today and Southwest Hawaii deals are now available.

News from our sources today on just how and when Southwest inter-island flights will roll out. When we met with Southwest Executive VP Andy Watterson last summer, he said that flights would arrive in Hawaii from the mainland on one day, spend the next flying inter-island and then return to the mainland on the third day. In other words, a three day rotation. Andy recently added, “we see that big (inter-island) market with higher price points and it’s short haul, which is what we’re known for.”

1. When will Southwest Hawaii inter-island start? Flights between Honolulu and Maui will be starting by early April, and will be part of the initial roll-out of Southwest Hawaii flights.

2. Inter-island routes and frequency. We’ve seen indication that inter-island will consist of four to eight flight segments per day, at the beginning. Those will start as flights between Honolulu and Maui, and soon thereafter expand to Kona, Lihue, and then Hilo.

3. Inter-island aircraft. Southwest will use their Boeing 737-800 aircraft for inter-island flights. Those accommodate 175 passengers, or approximately 50 more than Hawaiian Airlines‘ 717’s. In their all-economy configuration, Southwest will have 32 inches of seat pitch in a 3×3 configuration, whereas the Hawaiian fleet has 30-31 inches of pitch in a 3×2 configuration. That information according to Seat Guru.

4. What prices do we expect to see? While Southwest Hawaii inter-island may be a minor component in overall competition, it will still be enough of a force to bring prices down significantly. We will go out on a limb and predict best fares on both carriers could drop to the $39 range.

5. Southwest planes are mainland based. There will not be a separate fleet of aircraft for Hawaii inter-island service, either now or in the future. As a result, no separate Hawaii maintenance or crew base should be required.

One concern a mainland based inter-island fleet raises, is that Southwest inter-island flights might have some degree of reduced punctuality. Should a mainland flight be late, which can happen due to a range of issues including weather, winds, etc., that could impact follow-on inter-island flights. That in contrast to Hawaiian’s huge inter-island fleet that is based here in Hawaii. Those of us who live here, and visitors too, rely on that on-time dependability. One way the initial Southwest schedule appears to deal with that potential issue, is to segregate inter-island flights to be on the 2nd day of the rotation only.

6. Southwest Hawaii personnel. Honolulu and Kahului airports are staffed by Southwest employees. At Lihue and Kona, however, staffing will be a mix of a limited number of Southwest employees with the remainder being contracted from local companies. That is similar to what Alaska Airlines does in Hawaii.

7. Is there any issue with 737’s flying short hop Hawaii inter-island flights? In a nutshell, 737 can easily fly inter-island, it just can’t do it all day, every day, the way the Hawaiian 717 fleet can. This relates to addition engine stress created by these rapid short cycles, especially in our island weather conditions. When we asked Southwest about it last year, they stated emphatically that flying inter-island flights will not be any problem for the 737 fleet. Period. And that’s how we understand it too.

See our latest updates on Southwest Hawaii flights

56 thoughts on “Updated Southwest Hawaii Inter-Island | When It Starts + How It Works”

  1. What will be the cheapest place to fly out of in California to Maui August 1-10. Will there be any redeye flights back to the mainland? Mahalo

  2. Aloha Jeff and Rob!

    Thank you for this invaluable resource. The knowledge and insight is much appreciated.
    I’ve made plans to travel from Los Angeles to Maui mid-October. I’m started to keep my eyes and ears open now for flight deals. In your expert opinion, what time in the coming months would be a good time to make the final purchase?


    1. Hi Julio.

      Thank you! This year is harder than ever to predict for obvious reasons. Having said that, probably July.


  3. What is the food selection on the new exciting 6 hour flights from Oakland to Lihue? I am sure there will be more than a bag of pretzels and a can of Coke. I have a wife and four children. Will there be seat assignments, so we can sit together? I have a ton of Rapid Reward Points. Will I be able to use them like I do going from Oakland to Phoenix? I have heard that there may be further delays when Southwest will start their service to Hawaii, especially the inter-island flights. What have you heard?

    1. How do you book the $59 inter island tickets. We need them HNL to KOA on June 23, 2019.

      Thanks for your help!


        1. What are the prices for a flight HNL to Kona on June 23? I am anxious to book.

          Thanks for your help!


          1. Hi Nancy.

            From $79 depending on time of day. Probably better to book early as desirable times get booked fast and your date will be busy.


  4. Aloha,

    we are a family of 8, we will be flying to Maui from Honolulu in Jyly, when is the best time to buy the inter island tickets? and also just checking, cant book more than 6 people, why? thank you…

    1. Hi Angela.

      Best to not wait and buy tickets right now. Not sure why a reservation can only contain six tickets.


      1. Hi, when we took our family a few years ago there was 11 of us. We had to book inter island flights as a group. Worked out really well doing that. Think that may be what you may have to do with more than 6. Hope this helps.

      2. Where are you finding options to book on Southwest for inter-island? When I get on the Southwest web page, it doesn’t acknowledge Honolulu or Maui.

  5. Aloha! Myself and 5 friends are planning a trip to Maui from Chicago in September. Right now all the dates we are seeing are between $850 and $900 round-trip with one stop. Please tell us if we should expect to see fares come down, and if so when would be a good time to watch for lower fares or are we better off watching for two separate fares? Maybe one way to SFO or OAK on Southwest and then pick up another flight to Maui?

    Cathy P.

    1. Hi Cathy.

      You might see fares drop by $100 or so if you wait until sometime in spring. Yes you could do two separate tickets, but with that comes issues of missed connections, checked bags that may not inter-line, and possibly having to thus go through security again. And even with all that, it might save you very little. Airlines have that all figured out better than we do. 🙂


  6. Whoo whoo!
    My daughter and I have the same birthday in December, and I will be 70 and she will be 35 in 2019. We are planning a trip maybe in September
    and would love to go to Aulani.
    Milestones for both of us so I will be booking tickets for myself, daughter, husband and two grandkids!
    I am soooo excited that we will be able to use
    Southwest from Los Angeles to Oahu!
    Thank you !!!!

  7. SO excited to hear this very good news! We use Sacramento airport and would delight in boarding here and arriving in Lihue or Kona or Kahului without having the extra cost in time & money going through Honolulu. We’re headed to Kona at Thanksgiving this year with 14 family members. This is a dream come true!

      1. Hi Eb.

        We just don’t see anything on the horizon for Ontario unfortunately. Might happen, but for whatever reasons, it hasn’t worked out before.


  8. What is the most inexpensive way to get from Honolulu to Kona for a fishing trip and can you recomment the best place to stay overnight please.

    1. Hi Karianne.

      No recommendations on accommodations – that are so many choices. Flight prices depend on time of day and day of week.


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